Quick Response (QR) codes are two-dimensional barcodes that can contain many different types of information, allowing someone to use a device to "read" them. Augmented Reality (AR) is an application of technology in which an image or video is overlaid with digital assets on a screen or monitor. QR codes and augmented reality can be used together since the data contained within such a graphic can serve as the marker for an AR application. QR codes may also be a stepping stone toward wider use of AR as it serves to inform people about the potential for data in everyday objects.
The connection between QR codes and augmented reality can be fairly straightforward, though there are also more complicated links between them. One of the simplest ways in which both of these technologies can be used together is through the development of QR codes that serve as AR markers. These markers are objects that indicate to AR software that a digital asset needs to be loaded into a scene on the display of a computer or mobile device. A company can use QR codes and augmented reality together to allow a customer to scan an image that not only contains information about a product, but shows a virtual model of it.
Many different types of images can be used as markers for AR, however, so this use of QR codes and augmented reality is not required. A more implicit link between these two technologies, however, is the way in which each informs people about data in the world. Information literacy is the degree to which people understand how to find information and how data is communicated to them. QR codes and augmented reality create unprecedented opportunities for people to be more informed and to find data around them in just about any object.
One of the major limitations of QR technology is that it requires a particular item, a graphical barcode, to be scanned for someone to gain access to data. Consequently, a person needs to see the image, recognize what it is, and then scan it with an appropriate device to be able to know what is contained within it. This is one weakness that QR codes and augmented reality share, but there are certain ways in which AR expands upon and alleviates some of this issue.
While QR codes and augmented reality can be used together, there are many other types of images that can be used with AR applications. Barcodes are not required, which means that just about any image can be used to contain AR data. Knowledge of QR codes and how they function has helped some people become more aware of the potential for simple graphics to hold additional digital information. When taken further through augmented reality, far more data can be conveyed to those who have become more information literate.